EDITORIAL: Education is a privilege, not a right


Abigail Puketza

In America, the gift of knowledge has been watered down by tests, homework, and the constant pressure to succeed. KC writer Abigail Puketza discusses a solution.

The importance of education in today’s society has been pushed under the rug. When asked to list what they are thankful for, knowledge is not usually found on an average person’s list. In reality, education in America is something that is taken for granted and seen as a right instead of a privilege.

Without education, the completion of day-to-day activities would not be feasible due to basic skills like reading, writing, and math being the foundations of society. Americans are extremely lucky to have the public school system, a luxury not available to many poor countries. Americans take this gift of education for granted and do not truly appreciate what they have, which leads to a lack of interest in the material taught in schools; what was once exciting becomes monotonous. Looking at high school education as a whole, it becomes apparent that its flaws are creating wounds in America’s youth, and the fact that students see school as a chore instead of an opportunity to learn is causing the dilution of knowledge.

Part of this problem stems from the fact that public schools put an unhealthy amount of emphasis on performance and add undue pressure on their students. It is safe to say that almost every student across the country struggles with school-related stress. Teachers of high-level classes pile on hours of homework a night, causing some kids to have to stay up until midnight or later in order to complete all their homework due to their other obligations such as sports, clubs, theater, chores, work, and other activities that steal time away from their day. An immense amount of pressure is put on students by teachers and parents alike to get perfect grades so they can go to elite colleges in order to get high paying jobs.

Students study the material taught to them so they can get an A on the test and an A in the class, not because they are intrigued by new information or want to broaden their knowledge. Some parents get upset at their children when they receive a B on a quiz or test. A B is nowhere near a failing grade, but many parents see it as less than perfect so they scold their children and make them afraid to fail. This unhealthy standard of perfection produces two different types of students: hardworking and diligent ones, or more often, ones who cut corners to get ahead.

When a student cheats on a quiz, test, or even homework, they are only hurting themselves. Copying one homework assignment might not seem like a big deal. Students have packed schedules, and a ten point math worksheet is not high on their totem pole of priorities. However, one worksheet turns into one test they did not have time to study for, or a quiz on a topic they did not feel like reviewing. The pressure from parents to get straight As and from teachers to prepare for college applications can cause an upstanding student to compromise on his or her morals.

Since the public school system’s view on education has become askew, students see the homework and tests as pointless, annoying, and an overall burden. Even if the student is at the top of their class, in all Advanced Placement courses, and on their way to an Ivy League school, most of their conversations consist of complaints about a teacher or a test they took in the previous period. Hard work and perseverance is what produces good character, and when one aspect of a person’s character is compromised, like integrity by cheating on a test, it can have lasting effects.

Constantly cutting corners becomes a bad habit that will stick with a person for the rest of his or her life. This willingness to take a shortcut to get ahead causes the importance of education to become watered down and ends up harming the student, if not in the moment then later on in their lives when they are faced with difficulty in the workplace and do not know how to face it head on and persevere.

Education used to be something that was exciting and inspiring. In kindergarten, every time I went to the library, I would check out a different nonfiction book about a different kind of animal. In elementary school, students were excited and curious about reading, but now teachers can barely get students to read a book assigned in class.

The pure passion of learning has been washed away by the pressure and stress that school causes. Students settle for Sparknotes, and therefore miss out on the new knowledge that the opening of a book brings. By taking shortcuts, students accept their fate and settle for average. Being passionate about what is learned is essential to the success of students. Students need to relearn the art of finding “delight” in what they learn so that they are eager and excited to go to class every day.

Students are much more motivated to give their one hundred percent when they find enjoyment in what they are doing, like when they were in elementary school. However, this is not the case, so education becomes a stumbling block that harms the student when he or she does not take responsibility for education and cuts corners.

The only way to solve this problem is to change the way the material is taught in school and to change how school itself is perceived. First of all, not every kid is going to fall in love with every subject. We each have our own strengths. So, students should have more freedom to choose the classes they enjoy participating in. If a student’s strength is math, then they should not be forced to take world history, and vice versa. Students should also have more freedom in what books they read, because when I am excited about a book, I cannot put it down. I have not felt that way about a book assigned to me in school since middle school. Yes, the classics are important, but every book should not be force-fed down our throats.

Secondly, the way school is viewed needs to change, which will start to happen once there is more fluidity in the curriculum. Students see school now as a burden, but if the homework load is decreased, not as many assignments are graded, and pressure from parents is diminished, then students will find joy in school and find that childlike curiosity that has been lost over the years of tests and homework.

This will not be an overnight shift, but if we take small steps, one day education will not be a seen as pointed at students, and we can really appreciate the amazing gift we have.